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Ainhoa

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

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Ainhoa, population just under 700, is listed as one of the most beautiful villages of France: "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France". It is situated in the French Basque Country in the old province of Labourd some 22 km or 13 mi from the Atlantic Coast.
The village was formed around a 13th century vicariate that was a stop for the pilgrims on their way to Saint James de Compostelle. This vicariate created through an agreement between Juan Perez de Baztan, the local landlord and a member of the Navarre's ruling elite, and the abbot of the nearby monastery of Saint Sauveur d'Urdax became shortly a so called bastide that was attracting region's tradesmen that were given here (almost) equal land for building a house as well as agricultural land. A town's charter was also guaranteeing the liberty of the bastide inhabitants.
In the period historically known as the Hundred Years Wars the town oscillated between English and French rule but became definitively French in 1451. During the Thirty Years' War (1618 -1648) Ainhoa was partially destroyed and only the church and a house called "Machintoenea" remain from the previous period.
The Notre Dame Church of Ainhoa was built in a Romanesque style in the 13th century by the monks of the close by monastery of Saint Sauveur d'Urdax. After the Franco-Spanish wars of the first part of the 17th century the church was rebuilt: it is in this period of late 17th century that the wooden galleries of the interior as well as the new square bell tower are built.
The third extensive renovation work took place in the 19th century when the "arrow" roof of the bell tower is added and the nave and chancel of the church take the appearance we can see today.

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Latitude:43.308
Longitude:-1.497
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